Paul McGahey was 12 years old and on his way home from school when he was run over crossing the Sidmouth Road.

The knock on the door of their family home was ‘the knock every mother dreads’, explained Paul’s mother Tina. “We were moving house that day and we were in complete chaos. Apparently, Paul had got off the bus after school and gone behind it to cross the road but been hit by a car, believed to have been travelling at around 40mph. The accident was only down the road from the house we were moving from and my husband and I rushed to the scene. Someone was trying to stop the bleeding and we talked to him all the time while we waited for the Air Ambulance to arrive.”

Paul had suffered multiple broken bones but the biggest concern was the injury to his head. The Air Ambulance arrived and paramedics monitered him closely as they flew the short distance to RD&E. Doctors did scans and tests then stabilised him for a further flight, this time by the Police helicopter with a medical team on board, to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth where he had brain surgery. He spent the following three weeks in an induced coma.

The first hurdle was ‘will he live or die’ and doctors warned Paul’s parents and family that they couldn’t be sure of his outcome. He had suffered a fractured skull, part of which had been removed. Tina remembers just willing her son to hang on in there. Paul’s two sisters, Emily and Debbie, had worrying journeys as they travelled from Edinburgh and London to see their brother. It was an immense relief to everyone when, finally, Paul woke up and, whilst still very disorientated, he recognised his family.

Paul spent a total of two months in hospital and everyone was hugely relieved when he finally went home. His recovery continued over many months and included further surgery. He missed two full terms of school, initially returning just one day a week. Tina recalls just how brilliant many of his friends were, calling to see him and helping him in every way they could. A long-term effect of the accident was that Paul was exhausted much of the time; a direct result of his brain injury.

Now, 15 years on, Paul is 29 years old, 6’2” tall, happily married to his wife, Devon, and enjoys a busy and active life, running the Route 2 Café and apartments in Topsham as well as being a retained fire-fighter, and he has an absolute passion for watersports.  

Tina summed up by saying “We never wrapped him in cotton wool. We lived by the motto ‘Go and Do Life’ – encouraging Paul to sail, play sport and get involved in everything - and the greatest relief of  all is that, despite all our fears at the time, Paul totally recovered!”

We are always keen to hear the inspiring stories of those we airlift, but due to patient confidentiality we only hear from about 15% of patients. Do you have a story to share? Why not drop us a line?